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Time to stop bickering over Grace’s citizenship

/ 12:14 AM April 15, 2016

Solita Monsod wrote in her column (“Nothing capricious in Comelec rulings on Poe,” Opinion, 4/2/16): “Did Grace Poe lie in her COC? She did: She said she was a natural-born citizen because she was born to Ronnie and Susan Poe (in an official document of the Bureau of Immigration).”

Monsod should be reminded about the consequences of legal adoption. For all intents and purposes, the adopted child becomes a legitimate child of the adopting parents, standing on equal footing with the latter’s biological children (if any). Confidentiality of adoption papers prohibits anyone from inquiring into the real status of an adopted child and from treating the latter differently from the biological child of the adopting parents.

In other words, the law allows the adopted child to consider his/her adopting parents not just as “tito at tita” but his/her own “tatay at nanay”!

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Most parents do not disclose the fact of adoption, preferring to let the adopted child feel like he/she belongs to one biological family. But whether or not such disclosure is done, it makes no difference insofar as the protection and privilege granted by law to the adopted child. Legal fiction creates between them legitimate child-and-parents relationship.

So when Grace wrote in her certificate of candidacy that her parents were the Poe spouses, she was well within her legal right to do so. Being thus legally the child of the Poe spouses who are both Filipinos, could she be faulted for believing she is a Filipino? Well, take a look at the Constitution which plainly ordains as Filipinos “those whose fathers and mothers are citizens of the Philippines”! It does not say “those whose BIOLOGICAL fathers and mothers are citizens of the Philippines,” duh!

What did Monsod expect? That Grace should have written in that small space in the certificate of candidacy that she was a foundling of no known parents but was later legally adopted by the Poes? In the first place, Grace had no legal obligation to tell the Commission on Elections or anybody else for that matter that she was adopted. And neither did the Comelec or anybody else has the right to ask!

The Rules of Court provides: “All records, books or papers relating to adoption cases in the files of the court… or in any other agency or institution participating in the adoption proceedings shall be kept strictly confidential.” Even the civil registrar is being mandated to hide any circumstance of adoption in issuing a new birth certificate for the adopted child and to keep the original birth certificate under lock and key.

Where in the law does it say that an adopted child must reveal to the Comelec that she is adopted—if he/she runs for senator or president? Monsod castigated Grace for “deliberately lying” about her birth. She got it all wrong. If at all, it was an “honest mistake” in consonance with a legal fiction—a “lie” by itself! Seriously, it’s really time everyone stop b—-ing (pardon the word, but it’s really apt) about Grace’s citizenship!

—NIMFA RINA RICAFORT, ricafortnimfarina@gmail.com

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TAGS: Citizenship, Elections 2016, Grace Poe
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